While all focus remains on the dogs in Asia who end up in the dog meat trade, cats in Vietnam suffer the exact same fate as the dogs the media and welfare organizations (non-vegan, of course…) like to promote on their pages. Cats are trapped, sold, stolen and transported on large trucks on highways and in small cages locally for cat meat. The meat is sold more up north, but it exists around the country.
In Hoi An, cat theft is extremely common. Over the 7 years of our work in rehoming cats, the first couple of years we did not have the policy to insist on indoor-only homes. As a result, almost all of the cats that we rehomed during that period are missing and dead, killed for the cat meat trade more than likely but also hit by motorbikes, killed by dogs, or got sick from the rampant disease locally. We see the cat catcher in our neighborhood weekly during the day, but at night the thieves are at work with their traps set around the town.
Nearly 4 years ago, I stopped a cat catcher at the beach. Admittedly, it was a horrible day and I had just had to euthanize a kitten who had huge scald wounds from some kind of burn that was left untreated and was full of maggots. I was in a horrible mood and when the cat catcher drove by with 3 cats in his basket, I flipped. I turned around and followed him until he stopped, pulled the keys out of his motorbike and stuffed them down my bra (I could have a good excuse to kill him if he went for them there!). The guy was extremely surprised to say the least. I put one foot up on top of the basket then took his huge metal tongs for picking them up by their necks, and I held it like a baseball bat ready to swing at him if he got close. Then I quickly called my assistant to come translate and manage this stupidity I just got myself into. After having to go up against the neighbor who threatened me with a machete, having to explain to the bystanders what I was doing as cat meat is illegal in Vietnam, I managed to get the 3 cats and take them home. The villagers around me all were very grateful to me for saving them once they understood what the hell I was doing, and I drove off with them in 2 boxes to the new clinic building where I proceeded to drop to the ground and cry hysterically as the adrenaline had worn off by then and I realized that my lack of impulse control nearly got me decapitated by a psycho with a machete while I was rescuing kitties.
Joseph, Luna, and Kirsty were all saved that day from a fate that millions of cats experience in Vietnam, one that we have protected ours from through having a totally enclosed indoor/outdoor safe space for our shelter kitties. They would have been stuffed onto a truck with thousands of other cats and driven a day to their deaths. This is exactly what happens to dogs here and yet the media has failed to notice, just as they have failed to notice the true cause and sustainable solution to it which is no different than the answer for any other exploited animal.
Although both cats and dogs are killed for meat in Vietnam, the numbers killed still put them at less than 1% of all animal murdered for meat in Vietnam. The idea that cat meat is some randomly savage act of the Vietnamese is as batshit insane as it gets and is both racist and speciesist. Like every country on the planet, animals face horrendous deaths at the hands of humans, and very few of them are those we consider pets. It is vital to recognize that cat meat is no different from pig, chicken, duck, or cow flesh and secretions which most humans continue to consume needlessly here and globally.
And yet, these are the ones we can help right now at our shelter. We can get them to a home far away from a place where they could never experience the joy of walking carelessly through a field, will never get proper diagnoses and treatment by a vet with any measure of welfare standards, and will never know the love of a lifelong family who treats them with respect and keeps them safe. This is why they must leave.
Most of our rescue cats were not from the cat meat trade, but had they grown up on the streets, it is not unlikely this is where they would have met their end. Still the vast majority of cats and dogs in the country are suffering not from becoming food, but from not having access to veterinary care that prevents infectious disease, a safe home where they are kept off the streets away from traffic and predators, and a loving family that is diligent about their care.
THE ONLY SOLUTION TO ENDING THE SUFFERING OF CATS IN VIETNAM IS THROUGH YEAR ROUND, MASS STERILIZATION BY WELL-TRAINED VETERINARIANS.
We have NO way to provide this right now and as long as we are spending all our extremely limited funds on direct care in a shelter full of easily adoptable animals who are unable to get vet care locally. We will not ever be able to address the solution to saving cats by preventing their births in the first place without that clinic.
This is why they must get homes in Hanoi, Saigon, or abroad where they have access to vet care away from the threat of theft. Please adopt one of our rescued kitties who are all healthy and ready for new homes!